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The oral song tradition in Brittany has long been supplemented by written texts in the form of feuilles volantes--literally translated from French as "flying sheets". The earliest of these are religious songs dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Feuilles volantes are the works of a known author who printed as many as 1,500 sheets to help make his song better known. The printed text was sold as the author or another singer performed the song, most often at fairs. Subjects included events of the day--crimes, accidents, politics--and moral or instructive messages about family life, love or conscription into the army. Satirical and humorous songs had a strong place in the repertoire, as did religious topics. While some songs became popular and have remained in the oral tradition, many texts were ponderous in style and relatively poor in literary quality. Authors who signed the feuilles volantes came from all walks of life and were using this form of publication as late as the 1960s. The importance of this supplemental media to the oral tradition in Brittany is well documented in a catalogue of 1,100 titles compiled in 1942 by Joseph Ollivier, Catalogue bibliographique de la chanson populaire bretonne sur feuilles volantes.
"Chansons populaires de
Basse-Bretagne sur feuilles volants » Giraudon, Daniel.. Skol Vreizh no. 2-3,
decembre 1985. 131 pages.
Booklet tracing the history of "broadsheets" in Brittany, describing printing industry, singers and song writers, song styles and content; photographs and reproductions of song sheets abundant.
« Histoire de la chanson populaire bretonne » Malrieu, Patrick. 1983.. Rennes: Dastum and Skol.
« Catalogue bibliographique de la chanson populaire sur feuilles volantes » Ollivier, Joseph. 1942.. Quimper: Le Goaziou.
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